2006 Regular Session
To: Local and Private
By: Senator(s) Nunnelee, Bryan
AN ACT TO AUTHORIZE THE GOVERNING AUTHORITIES OF THE CITY OF TUPELO, MISSISSIPPI, TO ERECT AUTOMATED TRAFFIC SIGNAL ENFORCEMENT DEVICES WITHIN CITY LIMITS, AND TO IMPOSE AND ENFORCE CIVIL PENALTIES FOR VIOLATIONS OF RED TRAFFIC SIGNALS AS EVIDENCED BY SUCH DEVICES; TO PROVIDE FOR ADMINISTRATIVE ADJUDICATION HEARINGS; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. (1) The governing authorities of the City of Tupelo, Mississippi, are authorized, in their discretion, to erect automated traffic signal enforcement devices within the corporate limits of the City of Tupelo, and to impose and enforce civil penalties for violations of red traffic signals shown by such devices.
(2) If this authorization is exercised, the City of Tupelo, Mississippi, may amend Section 17-142 et seq. of its Code of Ordinances to read as follows:
ARTICLE V. AUTOMATED TRAFFIC SIGNAL ENFORCEMENT
Sec. 17-142. Definitions.
In this article:
(1) Department shall mean the Police Department of the City of Tupelo, Mississippi.
(2) Owner shall mean the owner of a motor vehicle as shown on the motor vehicle registration records of the Mississippi Department of Transportation or the analogous department or agency of another state or country.
(3) Photographic Traffic Signal Enforcement System shall mean a system that:
(a) consists of a camera system installed to work in conjunction with an electrically operated traffic control signal; and
(b) is capable of producing at least two recorded images that depicts the license plate attached to the rear of a motor vehicle that is not operated in compliance with the instructions of the traffic control signal.
(4) Recorded Image means an image recorded by a photographic traffic monitoring system that depicts the rear of a motor vehicle and is automatically recorded on a photograph or digital image.
(5) System Location means the approach to an intersection toward which a photographic traffic monitoring system is directed and in operation.
(6) Traffic Control Signal shall mean a traffic control device that displays alternating red, amber and green lights that directs traffic when to stop at or proceed through an intersection.
Sec. 17-143. Imposition of Civil Penalty for Violations.
(a) The City Council finds and determines that a vehicle that proceeds into an intersection when the traffic control signal for that vehicle's direction of travel is emitting a steady red signal damages the public by endangering motor vehicle operators and pedestrians alike, by decreasing the efficiency of traffic control and traffic flow efforts, and by increasing the number of serious accidents to which public safety agencies must respond at the expense of the taxpayers.
(b) Except as provided in (c) and (d) below, the owner of a motor vehicle is liable fore a civil penalty of Seventy-Five Dollars ($75) if the motor vehicle proceeds into an intersection at a system location when the traffic control signal for that motor vehicle's direction of travel is emitting a steady red signal.
(c) For a third or subsequent violation committed by the owner of the same motor vehicle during any 12-month period, the amount of the civil penalty shall be One Hundred Fifty Dollars ($150).
(d) An owner who fails to timely pay the civil penalty shall be subject to a late payment penalty of Twenty-Five Dollars ($25).
Sec. 17-144. Enforcement; procedures.
(a) The Department is responsible for the enforcement and administration of this article.
(b) In order to impose a civil penalty under this article,
the Department or its designee shall mail a notice of violation to the owner of the motor vehicle liable for the civil penalty not later than the 30th day after the date the violation is alleged to have occurred, to:
(1) the owner's address as shown on the registration records of the Mississippi Department of Transportation; or
(2) if the vehicle is registered in another state or country, the owner's address as shown on the motor vehicle registration records of the department or agency of the other state or country analogous to the Mississippi Department of Transportation.
(c) A notice of violation issued under this article shall contain the following:
(1) a description of the violation alleged;
(2) the name and address of owner of the vehicle involved in the violation;
(3) the date, time, and location of the violation;
(4) a copy of a recorded image of the vehicle involved in the violation;
(5) the amount of the civil penalty to be imposed for the violation;
(6) the date by which the civil penalty must be paid;
(7) a statement that the person named in the notice of violation may pay the civil penalty in lieu of appearing at an administrative adjudication hearing;
(8) information that informs the person named in the notice of violation;
(A) of the right to contest the imposition of the civil penalty in an administrative adjudication;
(B) of the manner and time in which to contest the imposition of the civil penalty; and
(C) that failure to pay the civil penalty or to contest liability is an admission of liability;
(9) a statement that a recorded image is evidence in a proceeding for the imposition of a civil penalty;
(10) that payment in full is due no later than on the 20th day after the date of the notice, unless the violation is contested in accordance with Section 17-145;
(11) a statement that failure to pay the civil penalty within the time allowed shall result in the imposition of a late penalty of Twenty-Five Dollars ($25.00); and
(12) any other information deemed necessary by the Department.
(d) A notice of violation under this article is presumed to have been received on the 5th day after the date the notice of violation is mailed.
(e) In lieu of issuing a notice of violation, the Department may mail a warning notice to the owner.
Sec. 17-145. Administrative Adjudication Hearing.
(a) A person who receives notice of violation may contest the imposition of the civil penalty by request in writing of an administrative adjudication of the civil penalty within fifteen (15) days after the receipt of the notice of violation (which, in light of the presumption of receipt in Sec. 17-144(d), must be received by the Department no later than the 20th day after the date on the notice of violation). Upon receipt of a timely request, the Department shall notify the person of the date and time of the hearing on the administrative adjudication. The administrative adjudication hearing shall be held before a hearing officer appointed by the Mayor.
(b) Failure to pay a civil penalty or to contest liability in a timely manner is an admission of liability in the full amount of the civil penalty assessed in the notice of violation, and is a waiver of the right to contest or appeal the notice of violation.
(c) The civil penalty shall not be assessed if after a hearing, the hearing officer enters a finding of no liability.
(d) In an administrative adjudication hearing, the issues must be proved at the hearing by a preponderance of the evidence. The reliability of the photographic traffic signal enforcement system used to produce the recorded image of the violation may be attested to in an administrative adjudication hearing by affidavit of an officer or employee of this City or the entity with which the City contracts to install or operate the system and who is responsible for inspecting and maintaining the system. An affidavit of an officer or employee of the City that alleges a violation based on an inspection of the pertinent recorded image is admissible in a proceeding under this article and is evidence of the facts contained in the affidavit.
(e) A person who is found liable under after an administrative adjudication hearing or who requests an administrative adjudication hearing and thereafter fails to appear at the time and place of the hearing is liable for administrative hearing costs in the amount of Twenty-Five Dollars ($25.00) in addition to the amount of the civil penalty assessed for the violation. A person who is found liable for a civil penalty after an administrative adjudication hearing, or who fails to appear, shall pay the civil penalty and costs within ten (10) days of the hearing, unless the person found liable timely files a notice of appeal with the municipal court in accordance with Section 17-145(i). A person who fails to attend the administrative hearing, however, forfeits any rights of appeal.
(f) It shall be an affirmative defense to the imposition of civil liability under this article, to be proven by a preponderance of the evidence, that:
(1) the traffic-control signal was not in proper position and sufficiently legible to an ordinarily observant person;
(2) the operator of the motor vehicle was acting in compliance with the lawful order or direction of a police officer;
(3) the operator of the motor vehicle violated the instructions of the traffic-control signal so as to yield the right-of-way to an immediately approaching authorized emergency vehicle;
(4) the motor vehicle was being operated as an authorized emergency vehicle and that the operator was acting in compliance with state statutes in operation thereof.
(5) the motor vehicle was a stolen vehicle and being operated by a person other than the owner of the vehicle without the effective consent of the owner;
(6) the license plate depicted in the recorded image of the violation was a stolen plate and being displayed on the motor vehicle other than the motor vehicle for which the plate had been issued;
(7) the presence of ice, snow, unusual amounts of rain or other unusually hazardous road conditions existed that would make compliance with this article more dangerous under the circumstances than non-compliance; or
(8) the person who received the notice of violation was not the owner of the motor-vehicle at the time of the violation.
(g) To demonstrate that at the time of the violation the motor vehicle was a stolen vehicle or the license plate displayed on the motor vehicle was a stolen plate, the owner must submit proof acceptable to the hearing officer that the theft of the vehicle or license plate had not been timely reported to the appropriate law enforcement agency.
(h) Notwithstanding anything in this article to the contrary, a person who fails to pay the amount of a civil penalty or to contest liability in a timely manner is entitled to an administrative adjudication hearing on the violation if:
(1) the person files an affidavit with the hearing officer stating the date on which the person received the notice of violation that was mailed to the person, if such date was later than five (5) days from the date o the notice; and
(2) within the same period required by Sec. 17-144(c)(7)(B) for a hearing to be timely requested but measured form the date the mailed notice was received as stated in the affidavit filed under subsection (h)(1), the person requests an administrative adjudication hearing.
(i) A person who is found liable after an administrative adjudication hearing may appeal that finding of civil liability to the Municipal Court by filing a notice of appeal with the clerk of the Municipal Court. The notice of appeal must be filed not later than the 3 1st day after the date on which the administrative adjudication hearing officer entered the finding of civil liability. Unless the person, on or before the filing of the notice of appeal, posts a bond in the amount of the civil penalty and any late fees, an appeal does not stay the enforcement of the civil penalty. An appeal shall be determined by the Municipal Court by trial de novo. The affidavits submitted under Section 17-145(d) shall be admitted by the municipal judge in the trial de novo, and the issues must be proved by a preponderance of the evidence. A person found liable by the Municipal Court shall pay an appellate filing fee of Fifty Dollars ($50.00) in addition to the civil penalty and any other fees due the City.
Sec. 17-146. Order.
(a) The hearing officer at any administrative adjudication hearing under this article shall issue an order stating:
(1) whether the person charged with the violation is liable for the violation;\
(2) if liable, the amount of any civil penalty, late penalty, and administrative adjudication cost assessed against the person.
(b) The orders issued under subsection (a) may be filed with the office of the hearing examiner. The hearing examiner shall keep the orders in a separate index and file. The orders may be recorded using microfilm, microfiche, or data processing techniques.
Sec. 17-147. Effect of Liability, exclusion of civil remedy.
(a) The imposition of civil penalty under this article is not a criminal conviction for any purpose, and is not reflected on the owner's permanent driving record.
(b) A civil penalty may not be imposed under this article on the owner of a motor vehicle if the operator of the vehicle was arrested or was issued a citation and notice to appear by a law enforcement officer for the same violation.
(e) An owner who fails to pay the civil penalty or to timely contest liability for the penalty is considered to admit liability for the full amount of the civil penalty stated in the notice of violation mailed to the person.
(d) The City Attorney is authorized to file suit to enforce collection of a civil penalty imposed under this article."
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after its passage.